Tag Archives: Photo

[Oh, Snap!] Dive Into DSLR Photography

Standard

You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”

― Alan W. Watts

Serenity in the Sequoias

Being a photographer is a bit like if you give a mouse a cookie:  if you give a photographer a point a shoot, they’ll want a dSLR; give them a dSLR and they’ll want a prime lens; give them a prime lens and they’ll want a wide angle and a zoom lens; then they’ll want studio lights, a professional flash…and well, you get it – it becomes an addition of the best sort.

From as long ago as I can remember, my step-mother would always have a camera attached to her hip. She captured poignant moments of an awkward childhood, from gleefully following my dad and I on our beach adventures or feeding ducks, and capturing birthday parties and basketball games; as I grew older, I found myself in awe of her keen eye – finding the simple beauty in nature, exploring minimal architecture, capturing the first bloom of a rose, or creating a mood with striking black and white imagery.   At least once a month, the three of us would wander down to Stanford Shopping Center for an afternoon outing to the now defunct One Time Photo, enjoying some sorbet from the ice cream shop next door while we patiently waited for the film to develop.  Wandering back through the photo store, I let my fingers unknowingly explore film from different ISOs as the printer that took up almost two-thirds of the store whirred with excitement. Then, I started stock piling disposable cameras – with a quick flick of the wrist, and the wind up flash, they became my quick introduction to pre-digital photography.

Untitled

Finally, when I was in high school, through a combination of technological advances and parents caving to their teenage daughter: I was given my first digital camera.  Within the photo world, there’s an ever present debate between the merits of Canon versus Nikon, with both the Sony Alpha and Panasonic Lumix lines not far behind.  But in my family, there wasn’t ever a choice – we’re a Canon + Mac family, through and through; so it began: first with a Canon Powershot, and then a Digital Elph.  Fast forward to now, and the technology for your cell phone’s camera has caught up to the most basic point and shoots, and your most basic iPhone or Android has the rudimentary functions of a camera. How-the hell-ever, in a sense you’re still dependent on your technology to do most of the heavy lifting.  Enter the DSLR.  I had my first real introduction to them in college – when I worked in retail to make some extra cash, some of my coworkers were attending the Brooks School for Photography.  I eagerly lapped up every iota of information I could as I sat in through product shoots and photoshoots; truth be told I moved to Los Angeles because of my love of modeling but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve learned how much I prefer being behind the camera, versus in front of it.

 

As I forayed my way into the Music Industry five years ago – I realized cell phones and point and shoots simply can’t capture the depth and detail the way the professional cameras can; not to mention, with DSLRs – you can go from capturing a moment to creating a moment.  Leaving your camera in Auto relegates each camera function to its internal camera, meaning that even though you’re pressing the shutter to capture the photo – it’s actually the camera’s AI that determined the richness of color, depth of field and focus.  Conversely, in Manual, when each camera function now relies on the user’s aptitude and emotion in the moment, twenty photographers could take the same photo and each produce a very different image.  I’ll admit that for the longest time, the DSLR scared me – it was intimidating, clunky, with what seemed like way too many buttons but after almost four years of watching Danny make magic with the 6D, I’ve finally mustered up the courage to carry it around for the day and get a few pictures that I’m happy with.

Back in the Spring two years ago while we gallivanted through Sequoia – there was something in the air that was so inspiring, it lured my creative nature out of hiding and brought it out to play.   It was frustrating trying to understand settings on the fly, adjusting for almost each image to get it the way my mind’s eye saw it, but as is the thing with life: you can’t get better at the things you don’t try.  Every once and a while for the next months after, I’d pick up the camera, fire a few images I was unhappy with and politely place it back where I’d found it – until I found the right resources, books and mentors to help me get my bearings.  In the time Danny and I have been together, he’s gone from a self taught amateur to a contributor for Getty Images; it’s beyond impressive. What he always tells me is that everyone – every single one of us – sees the world through their own unique prism, and it’s only through the exploration of your own creativity that you can convey those images to everyone else.

Getty VillaRegardless of whether you’re surrounded by gear heads, mentors or photographers, the best thing you can do is get some real hands on experience while stocking up on excellent resources.  I started on Canon 6D for Dummies, which was a great introduction to all things DSLR from the bottom up: lenses, features, menus, camera set up and some more intermediate functions like HRD and Multiple Exposure images, setting up the WiFi and adjusting the White Balance manually.   Even though making your way through the manual page by page might seem like a bore – after reading through Canon for Dummies, it also felt absolutely necessary to learn the core tools of the trade.  Next time you pick up a camera, do yourself a favor and just play around with the settings, comparing images to fully understand what each button can do.Related image

Next up, I migrated to the more  advanced Canon 6D: From Snapshots to Great Shots, which was more of a top down approach to the settings based on epic images, along with some informative asides on F-Stops, ISO and Shutter Speed while diving into each function of the camera; and let me tell you: this is the most important thing to understand.  The Shutter Speed is the length of time that your lens is open to absorb light,while the aperture – or F-Stop, controls the depth of field that the camera focuses on.  Finally, the ISO controls the cameras sensitivity to light and the ways the camera processes detail. I just got my paws on The Photographer’s Playbook  which has a menagerie of photography exercises for anyone, amateur to professional. Here’s the thing – you can read books til the cows come home, sit in on photo shoots as the second shooter or an assistant, or pull up Youtube tutorials to walk you through the basics but the best experience will always be true experience.   If you’ve been itching to pick up a camera, just do it – you’ll be surprised to find your mind working in new and creative ways to capture a moment, and trust me – you’ll be just as hooked as I am.  For anyone looking to jump in – Best Buy has amazing Open Box deals, as does Amazon, while F Stoppers has a great online repository of resources.

If you’re in the market to take your photography to the next level, F Stoppers is a wonderful online resource as well. Not to mention,

Photo bugs – what are some of your favorite pieces of gear? Let me know in the comments below!

Advertisements

[Tech Talk] Painting and Photography Collide with Prisma

Standard

img_3667

Have you ever wanted to marinate inside of a moment? Venture into mind melding visions of alternate realities while mediating comfortably in place? If you’re my kind of human, then you’re answer is undeniably, unequivocally – yes.  In my opinion, we’re all several shades of guilty – from real dreaming to daydreaming, and everything in between, as humans our escape fantasies eagerly, effortlessly and egregiously effuse from our souls like pheromones in search of a higher purpose, catalyzing creativity and breaking us free of old molds and mindsets.  To me, it’s part of the reason we create, coddle and crave the arts: through music, literature, art and theater – we discover new, previously hidden parts of our personalities while filling our soul with passion like a warm meal on a cold night.

Photography is an out of body experience where distortions of reality, mind melding visions of what’s possible and bends in time and space, painting – double so.  But unfortunately some of us (waves hand), weren’t blessed with a drawing gene or with a paintbrush in their hand  My stick figures are relatively lackluster and the cat face I’ve been trying to draw for the last 31 years hasn’t gotten much better. Suffice it to say, I’m in awe of true artistry when it comes to painting, drawing and all things in between and will try ad nauseam. So, when I caught wind of a photo app that alters your images with filters of popular artists – I was immediately sold; hook, line and sinker.

It’s happened before, and my heart swoons as it happens over, and over again: every once in a blue moon, a smart phone photography fad stops me dead in my tracks and requires hours of endless exploration.  Now that we’re 7 solid months into this year, I can safely proclaim that Prisma has been that app. Just a quick upload of a square sized photo (thank you, Instagram), and you’ll be on your way to fantastical results.  Once inside the app, Prisma applies an intricate and advanced learning algorithm to your photos that combines artificial intelligence with neural networks.  Basically, it’s like Deep Dream, Photoshop and Instagram had a psychedelic love child and it doesn’t matter if that last sentence made sense to you or not – because any way that cookie crumbles, the results are simply stunning.

Try on the tantalizing stylings of esteemed artists ranging from contemporary pop art legends Roy Litchenstein and Andy Warhol to classic stylings of Van Gaugh and Picasso, with detailed renderings that from a repository that looks like the lovechild of Android Jones art, fractals and street art.  There are also nods to artists such as Miyazaki, Kadinsky, Mucha, Chagall, Hokusai and Kadinsky – as well as eras of artistic prowess like Impressionism, Gothic Art, Manga, and more. Once your new work of art manifests in front of your eyes, you’ll have the option of taking the photo at 100 proof, or adjusting the edits down to a smaller scale.  If you just tap into your settings you can remove the watermark from the app, and last but certainly not least – it’s free! The only slight downfall of the application is the need to be connected to the Internet to query the algorithms to work – as the app gains popularity, the servers are also noticing a surge and have rendered themselves as over capacity; quick solution – just try, as try again – you’ll get through eventually!


From top, Left to Right: Tears, Urban, Tokyo, #GettUrban, Illegal Beauty, Dreams, Mononoke, Gothic, Curly Hair

My current favorite filters include Tokyo, Urban, and the Natalie Ratkovski-inspired Illegal Beauty – and I think I’ve even found a favorite way of manipulating the photos a second time using Instagram’s Layout app and creating a photo stack from the same image.  The results? All sorts of magical.

 

Did I pique your photography curiosity? i surely hope so, this is one of the most fun photography apps I’ve played with in a while – and admittedly, I play with a LOT!  The proof is in the blogged pudding, head here to check it out

Download for iOS | Download for Android

For fantastic edits and more information on Prisma, head to their website or social channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

[Tech Talk] The Best Photo Editing Apps for The iPhone

Standard

IMG_1967
When it comes to camera, photography and picture editing applications for the iPhone and Android (sorry, Blackberry…) there’s a menagerie of good ones to choose from; so much so, that it might seem overwhelming at times – at least, it has to me. Fortunately for y’all, I have an affinity for apps and a growing love of photo editing. When I start playing around with elements in a picture (Saturation, Contrast, Hue, Tone, Temperature, Vibrance, etc) I have one of two goals. To either make the picture look exactly the way I saw it with my own two eyes, or -conversely – to manipulate the image into something otherworldly and fantastical. My favorite part of the later is to make the unimaginable and unreal both visible and accessible to everyone that so much as glances at it.

Though I’ve technically only had an iPhone since last February, I’ve been using my dad’s deactivated iPhones as ‘Glorified iPods’ for the last three years in conjunction with my varied and beloved HTC Android models. Technically, that means I ‘ve been horsing around on photo editing applications just as long as the next iPhone addict. There are a few apps that I was first introduced to on my Droid, that bless their beautifully coded hearts exist in duplicate in the App Store and Google’s Play Store; when they do, I’ll be sure to point them out. Truth be told, I’m always interested in the latest and greatest apps to see how they stack up against my tried and true go-to gadgets. Some were recommended by friends, others I’ve been lucky enough to snag during an ‘App of the Week’ deal and the residuals – well, they’re just worth it. Without further ado, let’s get to know these awesome, and essentially effortless, editing tools while I use them on some of my favorite snaps.

RePix

A quick fix of an editing app – with great built in presets and easy to use metrics to toggle, it’s fun to edit pics and watch them transform right in front of you. But beyond simple touch ups, you can add flares, bokeh, “magic dust”, crackle effects and more! A great beginners app to getting creative on some pics.

IMG_1948.PNG

Fragment

The most fun I’ve had with an app in forever! Currently, Fragment is an ‘App of the Week’ over in the Apple Store so go head and treat yoself to a copy. At a basic level, you’re overlaying and intertwining fragmented parts of the picture on top of itself – the results are spectacular.

IMG_1923

IMG_1831

Mextures

Mextures comes with built in filters that you can layer over your images – color fades, grains and blending modes; and it contains fun presets for when you just want to play around.

IMG_1959

KaleidaCam

For those times you just want to be a trippy kitty, this is the purrrrrfect adventure of an app. You can use your camera and snap a pic in app to use, or you can use a pre-existing image on your photo roll and the app will fractal the image around itself and look, well, like a kaleidoscope! There are add ons if you really get into it but the free version is great.

IMG_1966

PixlrExpress (Android Version)

I first fell in lust with this editing app on my Android; there are a few different variations and I’m super happy that there’s a version made for the iPhone. You can do it all – tint editing, filters, color burns, adding galaxies and changing the focus of the picture. A great all around editing app.

IMG_1964.PNG

SquareFX

Because let’s face it, we all love Instagram and it would help if the pictures would just fit on their own. With SquareFX, you can pick the outline of your picture – hearts, stars, circles and geometric shapes, the opacity of the background and the color of the background itself.

IMG_1952.PNG

FilterStorm

All encompassing editing app for beginners to expert level; highly recommend the iPad version because it’s just that awesome. When you’re editing a picture, the image gets split in half so you can really see what changes you’re making to the original.

IMG_1953.PNG

Roll World

Back when I had my HTC, I was in love with ‘Globe Photo‘ – so when I found an equivalent in the App Store, I was stoked.  Roll World takes the two ends of your picture and stitches them together to make ‘worlds’!

IMG_1965.JPG

Sketch Guru

If you’ve got the insane idea that you’d like to transform a photo into a chalk scribble, a penciled out doodle or in neon lights – this is your savior. You can literally transform a picture into dozens of other media right before your eyes.

IMG_1968.PNG

Over

For those times that you need or want to add some delightful, and colorful, text to your pictures: Over is your man. From flirty to childish, typewriter to serif, the stock version comes with heaps of fonts to choose from and for just a dollar or two extra you can buy awesome add-on packs.

 

 

[Oh, Snap!] Street Art v17

Standard

Last weekend, before my adventure to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve – I found myself on the West side of Hollywood near my old apartment, and all of the amazing mural spaces for Street Art that I’ve spent so much time ogling. Since it’s been almost two months since the move, almost all of the pieces had been painted over with some amazing new street art that I’ve been itching to share.

20140518-085735.jpg

20140518-085827.jpg

20140518-085945.jpg

20140518-090001.jpg

20140518-090022.jpg

20140518-090050.jpg

20140518-090110.jpg

20140518-090126.jpg

20140518-090143.jpg

From Downtown to Korea Town, Silver Lake to Echo Park and Miracle Mile to Venice Beach – Los Angeles is essentially a Mecca of graffiti and all around acrylic creativity – but I know that there are other places with amazing street art. What are some of your favorite cities for Street Art? Let me know in the comments below!

[Oh, Snap] Adventure to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Standard

For the past few weeks, all I’ve heard about is how out of this world beautiful the National Poppy Reserve is; so, naturally, I had to find out for myself. Yesterday, we woke up bright and early with a bounce in our step – we were going to Lancaster for Mother’s Day and I was finally going to get my poppy fix! We jumped in the Dodge Challenger and with a vroooom, off we went!

These are some of my favorite snaps from yesterday; hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

20140512-103156.jpg

20140512-103208.jpg

20140512-103250.jpg

20140512-103336.jpg

20140512-103351.jpg

20140512-103359.jpg

20140512-103405.jpg

20140512-103416.jpg

20140512-103426.jpg

20140512-104015.jpg